Liz Wilson


  • Job: Deputy Director, High Speed Rail
  • Organisation: Department for Transport
  • Years in public service: 13

My grandmother/mother was a…

Both my Grandmas had periods at home looking after children, periods working and periods balancing the two.

One of my Grandmas was a war widow. Her husband was killed when she was 8 months pregnant, so she returned to work when her son was 6 weeks old. She was a trained book keeper and used one of the new concept nurseries to allow her to work so she could support them both.

My other Grandma was at times a dinner lady at the local school, working around the school day whilst her children were small, later she ran a small business.

One of my Grandmas is still alive. She’s definitely proud of me and pleased women have more career opportunities now.

Me in a nutshell

I am so many different things in any given day!

I returned from Shared Parental Leave in March and my husband went back earlier this month.

This year I have been a full time mum, the working partner whilst my husband took on the childcare full-time, and now learning how we, as a family, balance two careers and look after our daughter, Emmeline.

I switch between developing a Parliamentary Bill which grants powers to build a railway one day, and baby groups the next. Juggling things is challenging, but thankfully, one thing I like is being busy!

Managing family and working life has made me reflect on my priorities a lot. Five years ago I’d have talked about travelling, books, being in a choir. While I still really enjoy all those things, I do them less, but value them more.

My role

I am Head of Phase 2 Strategy in High Speed Rail Group, DfT.

In reality, that means I oversee the Programme Management of the second phase of High Speed Rail (Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds), and lead on preparation for the Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds) hybrid Parliamantary Bill.

If I had a magic wand, what I would do to accelerate gender equality?

I’d love to be able to accelerate how quickly the debate moves on from the idea of women being able to take on and succeed in roles traditionally filled by men, to it being more about people – regardless of gender - having complete choice about the way they live their life.

For me there is no hierarchy of roles- I don’t attach more value to a career or managing a home and family. There are so many ways to live a life and what matters is that the individual is able to live the life they choose and feel valued for it. So, if I could do anything I would magic away the preconceived ideas of roles for men and women.

Anything else you’d like to say

Having been on Shared Parental Leave, I can’t recommend it enough. My husband and I both learned so much through the process and we both had really special one on one time with our daughter.

As we return to work full time we do it as a real partnership, both completely understanding the pressures of work and childcare.

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